Change, the quality of impermanence and the flux, has had a chequered history as a concept. In ancient Greek philosophy, while Heraclitus saw change as ever-present and all-encompassing, Parmenides virtually denied its existence.
Ptolemaic astronomy envisioned a largely static universe, with erratic change confined to less worthy spheres.
With the rise of industrialisation and capitalism, the importance attached to innovation grew, and social and political upheavals and pressures often forced change by violent revolution (as in North America in the late 18th century and in later imitators). By the late 20th century much business and New Age thought focussed enthusiastically on transformation in management, in function and in mental attitudes, while ignoring or deploring changes in society or in geopolitics. And Madison Avenue receives payment to repeat the litany of the fad for change: In the fast-changing world of today, you need ... product X.
Cultural attitudes to change itself may fall into one of at least two categories:
- Change is random, lacking determinism or teleology.
- Change is cyclical, and one expects circumstances to recur. This concept, often seen as related to Eastern world views such as Hinduism or Buddhism, nevertheless had great popularity in Europe in the Middle ages, and often appears in depictions of the wheel of fortune.